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The University of Southampton
Microvesicle Research Group

NAFLD Double Blind Placebo Trial

Analysing the effect of an EPA double-blind placebo trial on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients using microvesicles as biomarkers


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease, and is frequently associated with diabetes. Both of these insulin resistant states have increased cardiovascular risk factors associated, that are a prevalent cause of mortality in these diseases. Both are associated with multi-organ inflammation, including the vasculature, immune cells and platelets, potentially altering microvesicle production and consequently the impact of microvesicles on cellular behaviour. This is reflected in the microvesicle studies that have been conducted to date, using traditional markers, which show increases in microvesicle numbers derived from the endothelial cells, white blood cells and platelets.


High dose omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexanoic acid, DHA and eicosapentanoic acid, EPA) are potential treatments for decreasing liver fat in NAFLD. This project will test the efficacy of these fatty acids to modify microvesicles and microvesicle sub-sets in vivo in patients with NAFLD'


Flow cytometry shall be used to investigate whether changes in platelet, endothelial and leukocyte microvesicles differ at the start and end of the trial, as well as to determine differences between patients with high dose EPA treatment and those given a placebo.

Clinical Potential

Few studies have been done characterising microvesicles in NAFLD patients. This study will help to determine the potential of microveislce as a biomarker in the progression of this disease.


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